(Rhino Between the Lines)
Amalia was awakened by the sound of tapping at the window. Heart pounding, she listened in the dark. Tap. Tap. Tap. There it was again. Someone was outside her room. Amalia was afraid, but she was not one to hoard her fear—she poked her sister Anna sleeping next to her.
“Anna,” she whispered, “Wake up. Someone is tapping on the window.”
Anna was awake in an instant.
“Oh, Mole, are you sure?”
Both girls sat up in bed and strained their ears. There was no more tapping. Instead, they heard the sound of voices whispering. It was followed a minute later by the sound of the back door opening. Amalia stiffened.
“Whoever it is, they are in the house,” she whispered.
“What should we do?”
Amalia thought for a moment.
“I am going to warn the household.”
“Quiet! On the count of three, I’m going to run down the hallway to our parent’s room and wake them up.”
“Oh, Mole, please don’t. I’ll be so scared. What if you get caught by whoever it is?”
“I’ll risk it. It’s just something I have to do. Ready? One…two… three.”
Amalia threw off the covers and ran screaming down the hallway.
“HELP! HELP! HELP!”
Franna and Virgil threw open their door and caught Amalia as she hurtled headlong into them.
“Mole! What is it?” cried Virgil.
“There’s someone in the house,” Amalia panted.
Franna lighted a candle and the three of them made their way to the front room. There stood Cyril, Amalia’s brother, with his arm around a young man, who seemed to be in a swoon
“Cyril! What in heaven’s name is this?” Franna exclaimed.
At the sound of her voice, the young man lifted his head and waved his arm.
“You,” he said, “have aroused by interest. Now go away; I’ve grown quite bored of you.” Then his head drooped once more.
Virgil came closer and sniffed.
“Cyril,” he said, “I believe your companion is drunk.”
“He is, unfortunately. This is Goodman Anselm’s nephew, Willis, who is staying with him for a while. We met the other day and formed an acquaintance. I don’t know what happened to get him in this state, but he decided he could not go to his uncle’s in this condition. So here came here instead.”
Cyril looked around the room. There was Virgil, Franna, Amalia, and Anna. Lammet, hearing the commotion, had also joined the group.
“I am so sorry,” he said. “When he knocked on my window, I didn’t know what else to do.”
Virgil put his arm under Willis and nodded to Cyril.
“There’s no harm done,” he said, “Let’s get this one to bed for now; we’ll talk in the morning.”
Together he and Cyril frog-marched Willis out of the room.
Amalia stared after them and groaned.
“I am so stupid,” she said. “I’ve made a first class fool of myself. Mother, how could I be such a dolt, running and screaming like that?”
Franna put her arm around her daughter.
“I call that being brave,” she said. “You had no idea it was Cyril and his friend. Instead, you ran into what you thought was danger in order to save your family. I’m proud of you. You did well.”
“You really think so?” she said. “I didn’t feel brave at the time.”
“Those who are truly brave rarely do. They just work with their fear to do the right thing.”
Later in bed, Anna poked Amalia.
“Are you asleep yet? I think you are brave, too—loud, but brave. Maybe tomorrow we can go somewhere and practicing screaming, just in case.”
“That’s a great idea. We must always make sure our voice is heard. It’s the brave thing to do.”